Nikko RC Racer Review

Nikko RC Racer brings you back to zipping RC cars around your driveway.

It’s actually a pretty ingenious idea to develop a video game that can be cross-promoted with actual, physical products. Just look at the success/cash cow that console games like Skylanders have become, and it is kind of a no-brainer. It’s thanks to this concept that the fine folks at Nikko and Paladin Studios (Momonga Pinball) have released a new iOS racing game that not only provides plenty of fun for racing fans, but also reminds us that there’s still a lot to like about RC cars.

Nikko RC Racer

More officially, Nikko RC Racer exists to help celebrate 55years of high-octane, remote-controlled madness from Japanese company, Nikko. And though this racing title isn’t what we’d call the stuff of gaming legend, it is packed with enough content to draw anyone from kids and casual players to today’s more hardcore gamers who can recall a time when zipping RC cars around their driveway was as cool as it got. Your friends would beg for a turn and you’d build ramps for jumps out of cinder blocks and 2x4s. Life was good.

When it comes to this specific virtual experience, racers will jump behind the wheel of ten different RC cars, each of which boasts different speed and handling attributes. There are several cool vehicles available right off the bat, but other, more powerful cars are unlocked by doing things such as liking Nikko on Facebook, taking advantage of micro-transactions, or picking up actual Nikko products that come packaged with unlock codes.

Nikko RC Racer

Once you’ve chosen or unlocked your dream RC racer, it’s time to speed through 9 massive tracks in an attempt to hit checkpoints, beat the clock, and challenge friends and random players through built-in Facebook connectivity. These challenge races are actually pretty cool, as a ghost version of your opponent is recorded so as to provide an actual head-to-head experience when you’re not really in the same session.

Developer Paladin has been nice enough to include three different control schemes for acceleration and steering (virtual buttons, sliding motions or tilting your iOS device left and right), so finding a comfortable fit for preferred playing style is a breeze. However, the sensitivity of each different option takes some getting used to. Gamers who are more used to the precision of console or PC controls will feel handling issues more than iOS veterans, but it is definitely worth considering before you choose to download.

Nikko RC Racer

Music falls under the semi-goofy umbrella of watered-down power-rock. This is far from annoying or intrusive, but is rather funny. To hear the tinny squeal of a high-pitched guitar solo while you’re driving a cartoony virtual RC car around is almost humorously intense and doesn’t quite fit the light-hearted subject matter. Paladin might’ve taken a breezier approach to music design, but nobody ever played a racing title for the music. The cars do kind of sound like actual RC vehicles, but aren’t anything to write home about. Luckily, both sound effects and music are easily mutable from the options menu, a feature that is always much appreciated, especially for those of us who like to game while out in the world from time to time.

Nikko RC Racer is about as close to driving an actual RC car as you can get without actually buying the dang toy. It isn’t a deep title by any means, nor is it the type of game you’ll lay awake at night obsessing over. What it does do is provide a nice, simple and free racing experience with decent graphics and some awesomely fun tracks. This is a great game for anyone who just plain likes the genre, or might be looking for a light title with which to pass the time. Control issues, pesky micro-transactions and silly music aside, this is a solid enough experience and a great way to celebrate over five decades in business for Nikko. 

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